Call landing pages the second chance a marketer has to make a first impression on a prospect – the initial one being whatever brought the prospect to the site. Adam Blitzer, co-founder and COO of marketing automation firm Pardot, spoke with Chief Marketer about several considerations business-to-business marketers should make when designing these pages.
CHIEF MARKETER: What are the biggest differences between how B2B and B2C landing pages convert visitors to leads?
BLITZER: B2B leads are typically generated with a longer time horizon in mind. Since these marketers have so much more time, they have more interactions with the prospect in which to get data they need. The first time someone hits a landing page they are probably doing research, and are in the initial phase of buying. In B2C, the sales cycle is much shorter, and the marketer needs to collect more information up front to get the prospect closer to the sale.
CM: What should a marketer consider when determining what information to request the first time a prospect hits a landing page?
BLITZER: If someone sees fields like phone number or address, they are more likely to be scared off. The phone number field equals "have a salesperson on me like a wet blanket" in most prospects' minds. During the first interaction, a marketer could ask for bare minimum – first name, last name, email and company name. During each interaction afterward a marketer can ask for slightly more data.
Usually it isn't marketers that want to capture all the data up front: It is the sales team. They are driving that mindset. The best way a marketer can deal with that is by testing different versions of a form or landing page and see what works best. The marketer might find that even having many optional fields reduces the conversion rate.
But there is such a thing as being too careful. Consider a car dealership. That is a big B2C purchase which still has a relatively long sales cycle, but if you don’t ask for the right information up front, another dealer will snatch that prospect away.
CM: When a prospect is brought in through creative that differs from the look of the overall website, which look and feel should be featured on the landing page?
BLITZER: A marketer should tie in to whatever creative brought the prospect in. [The landing page] shouldn't be a jarring experience to the visitor. A prospect shouldn't click on an ad and land on a page which is not what they expect. Where you see this happen most is in paid search. Prospects search for something specific, get a fairly generic landing page, and bounce away because it is not what they searched for.
Paid search and search engine marketing happen at such scale, and marketers are managing so many different key words, that is difficult to have creative that relates to most of them. A marketer wants to have landing pages that are fairly dynamic [and serve up content based on the terms which brought the prospect in].
This is, incidentally, even more important in B2C marketing. The searches, especially in ecommerce settings, are so specific. People often search of particular product names. If a marketer drives someone to generic content, the prospect is going to be turned off. If I search for a model of a TV and hit a generic lading page, I am not going be too excited. I expected to do my work in Google, rather than do my work in Google and then again on the landing site.
CM: What other tactics can B2B marketers use to increase the effectiveness of their landing pages?
BLITZER: The creative [that brought the prospect to the page], should funnel the right people to the right landing page. The ad should do a good job of qualifying the person itself. If you only sell to the Fortune 500, spell that right out in your ad. If you say "We start at $1,000 a month", you don't have to worry about those wanting freebies getting to the sales team and not converting, or paying for them in a cost-for-click paid environment.
CM: What are the metrics and measurements a marketer should be looking at, in regards to landing pages?
BLITZER: The main difference between B2B and B2C is in the difficulty in measurement. In the B2B arena it's harder to measure revenue because the sale takes place later than during that initial conversion. A marketer may not truly know how effective the landing page is until the visitor turns into a sale or not.
Don't worry about vanity metrics such as page views or number of leads. What marketers really want to know is how many leads are good enough to assign to their sales teams. Marketers used to be compensated on number of leads–that was the key performance indicator. What a marketer wants to measure is how many [of the leads] are marketing-qualified leads, before they're handed off to salespeople. What makes a sales-qualified lead differs from company to company. Is there a reasonable chance of the deal getting done? Some companies may have budget authorization in place, or a purchase timeline. [Looking at] total leads generated is barking up the wrong tree.
There's something interesting to look at: Error rate. How many people tried to fill out your form and couldn't. Maybe the form validation is weird. People are giving data in one way and the marketer is yelling at them, saying "it has to be in this way". Of the people who make an error the first time, how many complete the form? Are you throwing away business because your form is quirky or hard to use?